The BRICS, a consortium of significant emerging economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa is set to convene its 15th heads of state and government summit in Johannesburg from August 22nd to August 24th. This coalition, representing diverse economic and geopolitical backgrounds, serves as a platform for cooperative efforts on global issues. Each member nation possesses unique attributes, contributing distinct perspectives and strengths to this influential group.
Here are some essential facts to know about BRICS and its constituent nations.
How BRICS was created
The genesis of BRICS traces back to 2001 when Jim O’Neill, then the chief economist at Goldman Sachs, coined the acronym to spotlight the growth potential of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (initially excluding South Africa). In 2009, Russia instigated the formation of this informal club, aimed at challenging the dominance of the US-led global order. Unlike formal organizations like the UN or World Bank, BRICS isn’t a structured multilateral entity. Annually, heads of state from member nations assemble, with each country assuming a one-year rotational chairmanship, fostering collaborative leadership.
BRICS founding nations
BRICS comprises founding nations Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with South Africa joining in 2010, marking an expansion that led to the acronym. South Africa, with the smallest economic and population footprint, benefited from this enlargement.
These nations collectively represent over 40% of the global population and a quarter of the world economy. Beyond geopolitics, their agenda encompasses economic collaboration, enhanced multilateral trade, and developmental pursuits. Operating through consensus, the group’s members also contribute to the G20, a collection of significant global economies, furthering their influence on international matters.
Countries aspiring to join BRICS
Over 40 nations, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, have displayed a keen interest in joining BRICS, as reported by South Africa, the 2023 Summit Chair. These countries perceive BRICS as an alternative to Western-dominated global entities, seeking benefits like development finance, increased trade, and investment.
The backdrop of discontent among developing nations, amplified by the COVID-19 vaccine hoarding by wealthier countries, has spurred this interest. Iran, a holder of a significant portion of Middle East oil reserves, aims for prompt decisions on new membership protocols, reflecting the growing attraction to this dynamic alliance.
Saudi Arabia gains support from Russia and Brazil
Saudi Arabia, a significant oil player, engaged in “Friends of BRICS” discussions in Cape Town alongside other nations. Notably, it garnered support from Russia and Brazil for its BRICS membership aspiration.
Argentina secured China’s backing in July 2022 for its bid. Ethiopia, an emerging African economy, expressed interest in June and emphasized collaboration with institutions safeguarding its interests. These interactions underscore the widening appeal of BRICS, where nations seek alignment with a collective that offers mutual benefits and counterbalances traditional global power dynamics.
Bolivia to participate in the summit
Bolivian President Luis Arce’s interest in BRICS membership is set to manifest as he attends the summit. Bolivia, aiming to diminish reliance on the US dollar, pivots toward the Chinese yuan, aligning with BRICS’ goal of reducing dependence on the US currency.
Similarly, Algeria’s application for BRICS membership and New Development Bank shareholding underscores the nation’s resource-rich status and its drive to diversify the economy. These actions mirror the BRICS narrative of forging stronger ties, fostering economic diversification, and decreasing reliance on established global financial systems.
Multilateral development initiatives
BRICS established the New Development Bank (NDB) in 2014, often referred to as the BRICS Bank. The NDB focuses on financing infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies. It serves as an alternative source of funding for member nations, reducing reliance on traditional global financial institutions.
Cooperation in science and innovation
Beyond economics, BRICS member nations also collaborate in the field of science, technology, and innovation. Joint research projects, academic exchanges, and innovation forums facilitate knowledge-sharing and the development of cutting-edge technologies among the member countries. This underscores their commitment to broad-based collaboration beyond just economic and political spheres.
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